About 3 percent of people around the world have scoliosis, the majority of whom are girls and women (reference). Scoliosis is characterized by a lateral/sideways “S” or “C” curve in the spine. Depending on the severity of an individual’s curvature, it can have a significant impact on breathing and the functioning of certain organs. Different strategies and interventions exist to try and prevent scoliosis from getting worse or reverse it altogether. Before we delve into the role that Thai Massage can play, here are some essentials.
Structural / Idiopathic
We don’t really know what causes structural scoliosis. And when we don’t know what causes something, it makes it incredibly difficult to effectively treat it! Thai Massage helps to reduce discomfort in these situations of unknown scoliosis origin but unfortunately we don’t know whether or not it’s effective as a course of corrective therapy. Idiopathic scoliosis is typically managed through bracing or surgery. Bracing is the preferred method of treatment, though it involves wearing a custom brace to be worn for the majority of the day to be effective (as in, like 22hrs a day). Surgery is required in more severe instances and as you can see from the image above, is quite an invasive surgery involving rods, pins and screws.
Functional / Secondary
Some instances of scoliosis are functional, or occur as a secondary result of another condition. Examples of this include conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and other neuropathic conditions. Secondary scoliosis can also result from overcompensation due to injury or muscle atrophy. When scoliosis is functional, Thai Massage can play an important role in management.
4 Things We Can Do?
- Increase frequency of treatment – the more intensively we work on re-establishing equilibrium of the body, the better it responds.
- Attempt to find and release Trigger Points – Trigger Points often create dysfunctional muscular contraction, leading to disordered movement that can further progress to atrophy and overcompensation of other structures.
- Release hypertonic musculature – finding and attempting to release tighter structures will reduce their pull on the spine, allowing the vertebrae to gradually return to their original position when treatment is frequent enough.
- Provide an exercise regimen – to get the muscles working in a more appropriate and balanced manner.
Remember to take special consideration for the breath, as it may be restricted in the more severe cases of scoliosis. Keeping these things in mind allows you to put together a treatment that has greater therapeutic potential for your clients.